I’m in the UK and just about to finish uni (nothing film related). There is a scheme here where you can get a work permit/visa for Canada for a year once you’ve graduated as long as you get there by January 2010. At the moment I am really considering going to Vancouver. One main problem is if I was to go when should I go? I was wondering about US shows being filmed there, obviously they all start filming sometime around the start of July which I feel is too early as I want to try and get some experience in July over here. However is it the case that students might be PA’s over the summer and jobs might be available once they go back to uni (September)? Or is that just a silly idea of mine? For example I found an Australian’s cv on the internet and he started working on one such show in Vancouver in January. Is that just luck or do jobs as set PA’s come and go that much? There are a lot of things shot in Vancouver that I like and people seem to think it’s possible to get jobs there but I don’t really want to go there without having some experience over here.
Shows actually start filming as early as March, and usually no later than May. Even the mid-season replacements start shooting in late spring; after all, series get canceled after one airing nowadays. Those replacements need to be ready.
Writing an episode of dramatic television takes a month or two, from pitch to script. Dramas tend to shoot seven or eight days. Post (editing, color correction, mixing) can take weeks for a single ep. There is no way a series could keep up with this schedule if they started shooting weeks before the fall season begins to air in September.
As for your particular situation, I doubt any production would want to hire a PA on a temporary basis. Hiring anyone, even a PA, is a time consuming process; the AD or coordinator would prefer to do it once a season.
You could, however, work as an intern. If your university does have some sort of film or television program, see if they can connect you with a production in Canada. Barring that, cold calling is your next best bet.
Getting a job mid-season is mostly luck. Also, I don’t know Australia’s television schedule; January might be a normal time for them to start.
I really want to become a script supervisor one day but am very happy to try and get a job as a runner/PA and do that for as long as I need to be if I can be a script supervisor in the end. Out of interest do you know if that is something a lot of people want to be?
It’s an unusual goal, but hey, if you like it, go for it. I don’t know much about how one becomes a scripty, though. Try Script Goddess. She’ll be much more helpful than I.
Would going to Vancouver without any experience be really stupid if there is a chance I could get a job as a runner over here in the summer? It’s just I know a UPM of feature films (babysat his children when I was at school), you’ve definitely seen a film he’s worked on and I was thinking of asking him for advice on getting a job as a runner/asking who to contact. Do you think there is a chance that talking to the UPM might help lead to something good somewhere? Would you risk going to a country where you know no one when I have people here I know?
Okay, this would have been pertinent information at the beginning of your email. You know a UPM? Personally? Ask him for a job!
My mom once sent me an clipping from my hometown newspaper. It was a “Local Boy Makes It Big in Hollywood”-type story. A guy who went to my high school had become a producer on a successful game show.
His last name was the same as a family friend’s, so I called up my mom and asked if he was related.
“Yes,” my mom said, “it’s his brother. Why? Did you want to get in touch with him?”
Hell, yes, I did. This is how you break into the business.
Is this a UPM in Canada, or England? If he’s in Canada, your problem’s solved. UPMs don’t often deal with PAs directly, but if he tells the coordinator or AD to hire you, they will. If he’s in England, he can at least help you get the experience you need.
And as far as moving to another country, I’m not sure if I can help you. That’s a bigger deal than moving across the country (even one as big as the United States). I don’t know the relative sizes of the Canadian and British TV industries.
I do know that Canada’s is somewhat dependent on the fluctuations in Hollywood (i.e. when the value of the US dollar goes down, production is less likely to flee north of the border). British TV, I would assume, is more independent than that.
Your UPM friend may have a better answer. If you talk to him, I’d be interested to hear about it.